James Lee Byars

James Lee Byars

Kunstmuseum Bern

James Lee Byars, Releasing ‚O’, 1972, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Photograph: Balthasar Burkhard, Archive Harald Szeemann.
Copyriht Estate of James Lee Byars, Courtesy Galerie Micheal Werner, Berlin, Cologne & New York.

September 5, 2008

James Lee Byars – A Homage

12 September 2008 – 1 February 2009
Opening: September 11, 2008, 18 – 20 hrs
Tuesday 10 – 21 hrs
Wednesday-Sunday 10 – 17 hrs

Hodlerstrasse 8-12
CH-3000 Bern 7
Ph: +41 31 328 09 44
info [​at​] kunstmuseumbern.ch


James Lee Byars – A Homage

Kunstmuseum Bern, 12 September 2008 – 1 February 2009

James Lee Byars (1932 Detroit -1997 Cairo) was one of the 20th century’s most unusual and elusive artist figures. The Kunstmuseum Bern is now devoting a large survey exhibition to this American artist.

James Lee Byars loved what was imaginary and fleeting, equating the ephemeral and the immaterial with the material and the everlasting. He was not just an artist, he was a magician, a visionary and a dandy who understood how to cast a spell over his audience.

He was always on the lookout for perfection. Byars often eschewed any kind of materialisation in his works – they were mostly short-lived performances. However, Byars also had a flair for beautiful, solid, gleaming ‘eternal materials‘ – for sandstone, marble, glass and gold. He created numerous sculptures and objects in an almost classical repertoire of forms – using elements such as the sphere, the circle, the gate or the column. Byars as well bombarded his friends and acquaintances with letters of all kinds, thus demanding constant attention. These writings testify to an incredible virtuosity and creativity.

“Im full of Byars” will facilitate a survey of Byars’ work which is a symbiosis between Fluxus, Minimal and Concept art and which has forfeited nothing of its mystery and poetry to this very day. The exhibition will include a precise selection of sculptures and room installations from all the periods in Byars’ creative life as well as film documentations of his performances, which have never been shown before. The presentation will be complemented by works from the stocks of the Kunstmuseum Bern (from the Toni Gerber donations and the Hermann and Margrit Rupf Foundation) as well as numerous works on loan from private and public collections.

Curator: Susanne Friedli, phone +41 31 328 09 05, e-mail susanne.friedli@kunstmuseumbern.ch

Further Showings: Milton Keynes Gallery (4.4. – 21.6.2009), Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (September – December 2009).

Catalogue: IM FULL OF BYARS, authors Thomas McEvilley, Viola M. Michely, Peter J.Schneemann & Nicola Müllerschön, Matthias Frehner and Susanne Friedli. Kerber Verlag Leipzig, 264 pages, German/English, with numerous coloured and b&w illustrations. ISBN-Nr.:978-3-86678-155-9.

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September 5, 2008

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